Archive for January, 2007

Funky Starbucks

I’ve never seen a Starbucks like this. It’s in an old building (in Starbucks terms) overlooking Lake Lucerne on the Stone Mountain Highway (US 78), just east of Stone Mountain, right in central Georgia. Even curiouser, when we stopped by late morning, over half the tables were crammed with adolescent male Jews in long black overcoats.

Tabouli time

Hey, apologies for touting a TJ’s product once again, but this stuff makes some fine tabouli/tabbouleh. I have struggled with cooking then de-moisturizing the darned bulgur wheat, and using couscous totally eliminates that step, plus you can use some lemon juice and olive oil along with the hot water in the reconstitution process—yum!

Tabouli, like all true peasant recipes, is made with varying quantities of parsley and chopped veggies, with seasonings that vary among the cultures that make it. My favorite version has lots of parsley and lemon, with some crunch and color added by small red pepper and poblano pepper chunks.

One year

Today is the first anniversary of this blahg. As I strolled to the library this afternoon, I attempted to compose a commemorative essay, but every angle I thought up was so boring that I drifted back to contemplating…

…well, when human beings adopted behaviors that led them away from the nomadic hunter-gatherer life that the species had managed to make work so very well in environments ranging from the Arctic north to the Namibian desert, from tropical maritime shores to high-elevation mountain life in multiple continents.

For the most part, purist archaeologists shy away from thinking about the psychological component of the human past—for one big obvious reason: the evidence is scanty and indirect at best (a criticism common to both the processualist and post-processualist paradigms). However, I cannot think about groups of people changing their subsistence patterns (including eating different food and in different ways), changing their priorities, and changing so much else about their lives and what they do on a daily basis, without wondering about the mental component.

Mentioning this in some circles is tantamount to dropping a proverbial bombshell—one that isn’t Marilyn Monroe!

So, since I’m willing to tread these waters, lemme finish the thought. What was the motivation for the change? In a nutshell, I keep coming back to lust. In myriad forms. Just think of the so-called seven deadly sins: lust (originally extravagance), pride, coveting or wrath, envy, gluttony, anger, and sloth—right?). The first four unequivocally correlate to the tendency I’m thinking of, and the others can dovetail with it.

A psychological bent in this direction means increased interest in obtaining things one didn’t previously have, doing things that impress others, etc., leading to increased sociopolitical interactions, a transformed political economy, significant changes to ideology, and, poof, you can see changes that would underlie the shift to life in settled villages. At least I do….

Fearless & Paris

Just finished Walter Moseley’s Fear of the Dark. Excellent, excellent, excellent.

Shopping districts

Atlanta’s early neighborhood pattern fit the mixed-use pattern, with small clusters of commercial structures embedded in residential areas, except for the main business district downtown. Since transportation limited people to pedestrian distances, local shopping for everyday needs was a must, and local grocery stores had plenty of business.

Then, enough households had vehicles and better in-house storage (especially freezers), and shopping patterns shifted, and many of these local business closed. In our area, surviving businesses are overwhelmingly restaurants and sell splurge items (gifts, high-fashion clothing and shoes).

Now, the tide has turned again, and simulated local business areas are now newly grafted into huge shopping areas, part big-box stores and part fake local street corners, like this one south of Little Five Points. Unfortunately, few people walk to these commercial areas, or take the bus, so fossil fuels are used at higher rates than they might be.

Flying Tires

For a guy who designs and therefore deconstructs logos, I get quite a giggle out of jcb’s nickname for the logo of the Ohio State Patrol: the Flying Tires!



Often, I’ve thought about macro-scale approaches to social science and theories of sociopolitical evolution, but today, almost for the first time, I thought about how historians might approach the same issues, working from the temples of archives of records about the past, sometimes without questioning what other records, the non-written kind like ruins and artifacts, might indicate about these same people and times.

Both approaches bounce between one or a few examples (case studies), and broad theories, but the data each draw upon differs. However, the theories both end up with are surprisingly similar. Each has two camps, for instance, on whether the past cycles or is more linear (depends in part on how deeply into The Past you’re willing to go), and to what extent different perspectives are incorporated (the conquered “periphery” may see the trajectory of time/history quite differently from the privileged “core”).

’Nuff lecturing….

Self improvement

At the urging of KAH, I recently switched from relatively generic fish oils (Target, Meijer), to this fancy Omega 3.6.9 from Nordic Naturals. It differs from the rest of its ilk because it is “filtered” and I am letting myself believe that that is important….

Sometimes investigating jargon leads us to interesting vocabulary lessons. I recall some time ago when I encountered the word “subaltern” and had no idea what it meant. The usage was in the jargon of agency studies (and Anthony Giddens), and referred to the low status and powerlessness of the commoner masses (I think). The word, however, has an upstanding prior meaning. As a noun, it meant a low-ranking British army officer. As an adjective, it did refer to those of low status (hence its co-opting by social theorists), but it also has this meaning (thank you Apple Dictionary):

Over my head!

New shoes!

…and socks!

We took advantage of the January sale at REI and got a new pair of shoozies for each of us and some lux socks to go with (observing with glee this leetle sign on the test fake-rock in the shoe department there).

Happy feet deserve a nice little day hike, so the next step is to check the maps for, well, the GA or NC mountains, probably. We had a grand trek on near the north shore of Lake Fontana last year, and would love to repeat, as that area, basically along the southern flank of Clingman’s Dome, was just delightful. Closer to home, there are some great spots north of Helen and Clayton.


Mole memories

Okay, here’s the hyacinth that was blooming outdoors, flanking the jar of almost-Mexico that we found, also, at TJ’s. I dolled it up with extra onions and garlic and simmered it for another hour before ladling it over the chicken, and it reminded me that it’s been quite a while since I’ve been south of the frontera. Sigh.

Recommended as an easy, inexpensive twinge for the palate, rather like a mole coloradito or mole poblano. Should you want to try making some of these wonderful sauces from scratch, you might try Iliana de la Vega’s recipes.